A proposal for a $3.8 billion Bronzeville Lakefront development was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission, with affordable housing to make up twenty percent of the residential units to be built on the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center. Public commenters asked developers to commit to including high-quality jobs, particularly in hospitality.
Ridership declined fifty-eight percent from 2019 to 2020 on the CTA, Metra, Pace, and Pace ADA Paratransit. At a meeting of the Regional Transportation Authority Board which oversees those transit agencies, RTA officials noted that federal CARES Act funding provided a significant portion of the revenue that kept transit going through 2020. The board discussed how to distribute new COVID-19 relief dollars.
The Land Transactions Committee of the Cook County Land Bank Authority board heard at its meeting that applications to acquire property through the Land Bank were higher in January than at any other point in the past year. Darlene Dugo, senior acquisitions manager, attributed the increase to continuing interest from community engagement sessions, social media and developers despite the pandemic.
A vote to approve thirteen banks in which the City of Chicago deposits money was delayed at the City Council Committee on Finance meeting. Members pushed back, indicating that most of the banks have lent far less for mortgages in Black and Latinx neighborhoods than in other neighborhoods
Discussion of changing zoning rules for museums grew heated and a vote was delayed at the City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards meeting. Ald. Sophia King (4th) proposed that homes in residential areas be required to obtain zoning changes to become museums because they can be disruptive. Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) opposed the proposal, saying it would hamper neighborhood culture.
Parents advocated for improvements to remote learning during a Chicago Board of Education meeting and voiced support for demands presented by parent group Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education. Also highlighted were the need for more special education support and a concern that CPS has given up on further supporting students learning from home.
Banks were conspicuously absent at a hearing on the gaping racial disparities in their mortgage lending in the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate. Though Black Chicagoans who faced barriers to homeownership, representatives from nonprofits, and even members of Congress described the extent and impact of the problem, nine of ten invited financial institutions declined to participate. Possible solutions discussed included pressing banks to change practices or strengthening weak federal regulations to ensure banks lend in all neighborhoods.
In the last week of February, fifty percent of COVID-19 vaccinations went to Black and Latinx Chicagoans. Dr. Allison Arwady reported to the City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations that new COVID-19 cases in the Latinx community, which has been disproportionately affected in the city, have improved, but COVID hospitalization numbers among Black Chicagoans remain high.
Licenses prioritizing marijuana dispensary applicants who met “social equity” standards have been delayed across the state amid conflict over how few applicants were found to qualify. Commissioner Deborah Sims asked at the Cook County Cannabis Commission meeting whether some licenses can be guaranteed to Black applicants, but no such measures can be enacted until a study—also delayed—officially confirms disparities and barriers to entry in the industry.
A second round of $13 million in federally funded emergency grants will be available to students at City Colleges of Chicago experiencing economic hardship during the pandemic, according to the meeting of the CCC Board of Trustees’ Committee on Finance and Administrative Services.
Google Translate isn’t good enough for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s new website, Commissioner Marcelino Garcia said at the MWRD Board of Commissioners’ meeting. As the board approved calling for proposals for a $300,000 contract to update the website, executive director Brian Perkovich noted only that they’re looking at different technology options for translation.
A push to start a birth center in the Stony Island neighborhood was the subject of a presentation at the Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans Task Force’s Systems Subcommittee meeting, as it begins to develop action steps for its recommendations to improve Black maternal health. Despite the obstacles posed by current Illinois law, they hope to advocate for a legislative “tweak” and to open a birth center by the end of the year.
Taste of Chicago, the Air and Water Show, and the Chicago Blues Festival are among the events the City Council Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation authorized the relevant department to execute this year.
Construction of the Chicago Park District’s new headquarters is ready to move forward, with a $64.5 million contract for the project approved at the Park District Board’s meeting. The site in Brighton Park, currently a vacant lot, will be converted to a park with athletic fields and a spray pool.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will buy paper Ventra cards in bulk to provide them to clients who need transportation assistance. The new agreement approved at the Chicago Transit Authority Board meeting replaces a “cumbersome” process where DCFS clients had to request a fare voucher, wait for it to arrive, and redeem it at a grocery store.
Early work for the new police and fire academy to be built in West Garfield Park has begun to move forward after the Public Building Commission of Chicago’s board approved an initial phase of construction last month. During the board’s Administrative Operations Committee meeting, about $190,000 was allocated for a feasibility study, site analysis, and concept design.
The first meeting of a new City Council Subcommittee on Reparations included testimony from Kamm Howard, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, and Evanston Alderman Robin Simmons, who testified that Evanston’s new reparations ordinance sets aside the first $10 million in marijuana sales taxes for efforts to redress harms to Black people by the city.
Forming deeper connections with Chicago’s LGBTQ+ and Asian American communities is an important goal for Nancy Andrade, new Commissioner of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, she said at the CCHR board meeting. Another member of the commission, Chicago Advisory Council on LGBTQ+ Issues Chair Butch Trusty, highlighted the opportunity to support addressing holes in the city’s violence reduction plan.
To read more or to see a list of upcoming meetings visit documenters.org.
Olivia Stovicek for City Bureau’s Documenters & South Side Weekly